Monday, September 20, 2010

Douglas County GOP By-Laws and the Governor's Race

by John Ransom, former Chairman of Douglas County Republicans

There has been quite a bit of controversy regarding what the bylaws say about support of the GOP nominee, Dan Maes.

Let's first look at what the bylaws don't say.

While the language is very general, a plain reading of the bylaws does not say that precinct people and district captains must resign if they support another candidate besides the GOP nominee. And they certainly contain no provision for officers or other members to demand that members of the central committee or executive committee resign if they refuse to support the GOP nominee. It's no more proper for others to demand resignations than it is to demand that Maes drop out of the race.

I would argue, quite the opposite. Officers who demand that others resign are violating the bylaws in fact. They have no authority anywhere in the bylaws to demand resignations. The only authority to remove members of the GOP from positions as Officers, PCP or DC is vested in the executive committee and the central committee under the bylaws. There are clearly prescribed procedures for such removals and those procedures don't include the chairman of the county party demanding resignations.

So what exactly do the bylaws say about supporting a Republican candidate?

The bylaws say that the central committee "acting as an entity" may not oppose the GOP nominee in a general election. The words "acting as an entity" defines what may not be done (that is, oppose a GOP nominee as an entity) and by implication defines what may be done. Because it excludes all other cases, such as individual endorsements, one could reasonably argue that a PCP or a district captain then can individually endorse candidates.

In other words, precinct people, district captains can individually endorse whoever they wish as long as they are not "acting as an entity" as the central committee.

The bylaws were written this way on purpose in order to take into account unique situations where healthy public opinion prohibits members of the GOP from supporting a nominee, as in the case of Maes. Instead of tying the hands of members, the bylaws leave the definition of what is permissible by individuals to the executive committee and the central committee to define on a case by case basis. There is nothing hypothetical about the vesting of the authority to define on a case by case basis by the executive committee and the central committee how to act in these cases . It is an accomplished fact in the way the bylaws define the role of executive committee and the central committee.

What about removing members?

The word in the bylaws "may" regarding removal (as in: "Any elected officer (PCP, DC) of the DCR may be removed for good cause which shall include the following,") does not mean that an officer, precinct person or DC must resign, should resign or will be asked to resign or be removed. In fact, it is up to the executive committee to vote to remove a PCP, district captain or officer. A two-thirds vote is required to remove someone via executive committee and a majority vote via central committee.

Then even if the person is removed, there is no provision preventing precinct people from re-electing officers, district captains or re-appointing those removed.

I would strongly urge everyone to please read the bylaws before demanding what clearly violates the procedures, spirit and intent of the bylaws. Remember please that Officers, PCP and District Captains all are elected by peers to represent us. We should respect that, and let everyone be animated by the desire to do what their conscience dictates is in the best interest of the party.

Then they can explain what they did at election time, as is proper.

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